The people trying to save programming from itself

“Most things in the world are broken,” noted RAD Game Tools owner Jeff Roberts in a 2013 vodcast with programmer Casey Muratori. Roberts was talking about the busted, often unusable state of technology in our every day lives. You’ve probably seen examples of this when you’ve simply tried to install a game: “driver not found”; “reboot now or install later?”; “an error occurred.” These are the result of poor decisions made decades ago, Roberts explains: “We’re in the mess that we are in now because of software engineering preferences from 30 years ago, made by people that just didn’t write enough code to have those preferences…


Code Romantic, a visual novel about love and programming

If you like the sound of a visual novel with both computer science puzzle and romance elements then Code Romantic is for you. So far, creator Pretty Smart Games has released two of the game’s chapters, with more to come a little further down the line. Unlike Zachtronics-style programming games—where players learn fictional systems—Code Romantic is teaching players using C#, a coding language folks use a whole bunch. A game like Zachtronics’s Shenzhen I/O teaches more logic-based theories, while Code Romantic is starting more traditionally with the basics of code semantics. No prior programming experience is necessary, as the game starts off with very simple commands—stuff you’d learn in an intro…

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Short documentary details the creation of a “fine art videogame”

“What do you get when you take a painter with a penchant for the peculiar and a programmer fluent in pixels?” That is the question posed by JJ Walker’s short documentary, Canvas+Code, which follows Ryan Ford and Brad Henderson, the painter and programmer that make up Globhammer. The documentary has been out for a few days now, and is currently available to watch on Vimeo. The seven-minute-long short film gives viewers a brief look at the duo, with both sharing small details about how they met, their respective thoughts on art and videogames, and just what, exactly, Globhammer means. “When I said [Globhammer], I…


The AI being forced to climb Minecraft’s highest hills

Somewhere in Microsoft’s New York offices right now, an artificial intelligence is busy repeatedly trying and failing to climb a hill in Minecraft (2011), as if a modern day reenactment of the Sisyphus myth. This AI is being watched by a team of five computer scientists, and its many deaths are being meticulously recorded. Its name is Project AIX, and it’s part of a new open source initiative from Microsoft to advance not only games, but artificial intelligence as a whole. It’s a project not dissimilar to the one going on at Germany’s University of Tübingen entitled Social Mario, the concept of which…


A series of inputs and outputs

Colossal Cave Adventure (or, Adventure for short) isn’t exactly a familiar title today. Developed during the early 1970s, Adventure was written by programmer Will Crowther while working for Bolt, Beranek and Newman. Crowther was an advent cave explorer, and had vast experience surveying the Kentucky caves. So, combining his love for caverning with his passion for fantasy role-playing, Crowther wrote a short interactive story about exploring a fantastical cave for his daughters. With the help of programmer Don Woods, the game quickly spread across the fledgling internet, and became an instant phenomenon. By the late 1970s, Adventure had ushered in…


Discover the computational hell of corporate work in Human Resource Machine

Tomorrow Corporation already showed an aptitude for making players do small, seemingly innocent tasks that fuel a nightmarish machine with Little Inferno. In Little Inferno, you must solve destructive puzzles by burning an unlikely array of objects to unlock more objects to be burned in their Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. Though progression relies on the unspeakable joy of watching something like a miniature opera singer toy explode mid belt, the story satirizes an industrial system built on waste and consumption. Now, the team at Tomorrow Corporation is bringing their adorably dreary aesthetic to the workplace in Human Resource Machine, a puzzle…


Glitchspace switches intimidation from its programming puzzles to its architecture

Using a programming gun to solve environmental puzzles is one of those ideas that works great in theory more than it does in practice. That’s what Space Budgie discovered upon releasing the first alpha build of Glitchspace last year, at least. Yes, despite the positive reception from early critics and fellow game developers, Glitchspace proved to be polarizing among the first batch of players. “Some were on board straight away with the developed programming mechanic, whilst others were left confused and alienated by a title that felt completely closed off to them,” Space Budgie said. it layers each programming idea on…


Lucas Pope takes us down the dark path of retouching 1-bit visuals

Return of the Obra Dinn is an upcoming Lucas Pope game with visuals so quietly gorgeous and ghost-like that only a haunting story about being lost at sea could match it. Pope, seemingly having observred the beautiful 8 to 16-bit games coming out over the past couple years, has decided to double down, using 1-bit graphics that recall early Macintosh visuals from Apple’s gray, boxy glory days. Unsurprisingly this design choice has left Pope with some unique problems throughout development. In his latest blog post on TIGSource, he takes readers through one such issue step by step. After getting the uncanny sense…


Vane strives for beauty and consistency, even in its bird physics

It’s the little things that makes Vane one of the most gorgeous looking games in development right now: the graceful twirl of leaves loosening from thin branches, clouds of dust that kick up behind a small, running figure, or the beating of a bird’s wings against the hot desert air. In games, beauty isn’t just the product of a pleasing art style. The coding has to do its part too, and a new blog post from developer Friend & Foe Games shows just how much painstaking detail can go into perfecting the systems that many people take for granted. According…